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Hungarian court rejects extradition of Macedonia ex-leader

June 27, 2019
FILE - In this photo dated April 6, 2017, the former Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski looks through an open door during a session of the parliament in Skopje, Macedonia. A Budapest court said Thursday June 27, 2019, it has rejected an extradition request from North Macedonia for return of its former prime minister Gruevski, who is granted asylum in Hungary. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski, FILE)
FILE - In this photo dated April 6, 2017, the former Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski looks through an open door during a session of the parliament in Skopje, Macedonia. A Budapest court said Thursday June 27, 2019, it has rejected an extradition request from North Macedonia for return of its former prime minister Gruevski, who is granted asylum in Hungary. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski, FILE)

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — A Budapest court on Thursday rejected an extradition request from North Macedonia for its former prime minister, Nikola Gruevski.

Gruevski fled in November to avoid a two-year prison term for corruption and was later granted asylum by Hungary.

North Macedonia is seeking Gruevski’s extradition because of the conviction and because of several other criminal proceedings launched against him.

Budapest’s Capital City Court said Thursday that the extradition request cannot be granted since by law people given asylum cannot be extradited to the country they fled from.

The court also said that while the crimes for which Gruevski was convicted, as well as those for which he is being investigated, are also considered crimes in Hungary and the cases are within the statute of limitations, the ruling did not examine the merits of the cases he is involved in.

Gruevski, who was in office for a decade until 2016, is an ally of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and arrived in Hungary after traveling through several Balkan countries in Hungarian diplomatic vehicles, escorted by Hungarian diplomats.

Earlier this month, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told lawmakers that he meets regularly in his office with Gruevski to consult on West Balkan affairs.

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